By on September 19, 2017

2018 Ford Fiesta ST three-door - Image: FordOver the last seven years, America, you didn’t buy many Ford Fiestas. Fewer than 430,000, in fact. For perspective, in the much smaller United Kingdom market, Ford sold over 500,000 Fiestas in just the last four years.

But the Fiesta’s lack of popularity — and its dramatic loss of popularity in America — is not a unique-to-Ford situation. U.S. sales of subcompact cars plunged by more than a fifth, year-over-year, during the first eight months of 2017. That tumble comes after U.S. sales of subcompact cars declined in 2015 and 2016, as well.

Nevertheless, it comes as no surprise that Ford, after exploring America’s affordable avenues for one generation of Fiesta, isn’t bringing the seventh-generation version to America. And now we have confirmation that there is absolutely no hope the next-gen Ford Fiesta ST will come stateside, either. (Read More…)

By on September 12, 2017

2017 Volkswagen up - Image: VolkswagenThe global auto industry is not a place in which small car production is as straightforward as it was a decade or two ago.

Brought closer to home, Americans are buying roughly 30-percent fewer subcompact cars now than they were just three years ago. With next to no fuel economy advantages; limited payment upside; and less refinement, power, and space, why would a car buyer choose a subcompact over a compact sibling? Most buyers don’t. In the United States, compact car sales are five times stronger than subcompact sales. August’s top three compacts (Civic, Corolla, Cruze) outsold their subcompact brethren (Fit, Yaris, Sonic) by more than seven-to-one.

Many automakers don’t even bother selling their smallest cars in North America. Mazda’s latest 2 never saw U.S. import. FCA has left the compact market, having long since left the subcompact sector to rivals. Subaru doesn’t dive below the Impreza platform. And Volkswagen stops at the Golf, leaving the subcompact Polo for more small-car-friendly countries.

But how keen on small cars are those other countries? In some instances, not keen enough. Volkswagen boss Herbert Diess tells Autocar, “Selling small cars is not easy.” And he’s clearly not just talking about F-150-loving America. “It’s a very European problem,” says Diess. As a result, the Volkswagen Up city car, a Lupo successor, may pull out of Europe in favor of emerging markets only. (Read More…)

By on August 30, 2017

2017 Ford Fiesta Vignale - Image: FordRemember Antonella?

Antonella was a 28-year-old Italian, living in the heart of Rome in the latter part of the last decade, who needed a nimble and stylish Ford.

Antonella has changed. Antonella has more money. She no longer lives with her parents. She has, say it politely, aged, though she’s “still very expressive,” Ford of Europe’s design boss George Saridakis tells Automotive News Europe. Since Antonella changed, the Ford Fiesta for which she was created (or vice versa) has also changed. Ford of Europe now hopes 10 percent of Europe’s Antonellas will choose the upmarket Fiesta Vignale.

What about Antonella’s cousin, Amy in Cleveland? Ford probably hopes she’ll buy a 2018 EcoSport. But if we’re going to be honest about Amy (a TTAC creation), we all know Ford’s inadvertently pulling her into the leftover 2017 Escape she’s been eyeing, the one with a $2,500 discount and interest-free financing over 84 months. (Read More…)

By on August 23, 2017

2018 Honda Fit Sport 6MT in Orange Fury - Image: HondaThe Dodge Dart is dead. The Ford Fiesta is likely on its last legs in the United States. Ford Focus production is moving to China, off the North American continent where demand for Ford small cars is rapidly declining. General Motors is scaling back production at the Chevrolet Sonic’s Orion Township, Michigan, assembly plant.

That’s the Detroit small car picture, or at least part of it. From Japan’s perspective, however, small cars are entirely worth it, not just because of the sales success enjoyed by the Honda Civic (currently America’s best-selling car through 2017’s first seven months) and Toyota Corolla, but because of the demographic small cars target. (Read More…)

By on July 25, 2017

2018 Toyota Prius C - Image: Toyota.comIt started last year. Toyota, in concert with upgrading the Prius C with Toyota Safety Sense C added a matte black bodykit to the lower portions of the 2017 Prius C.

But for 2018, the Toyota Prius C is a veritable off-roader — a Rubicon-rolling, 4×4 river-fording FJ Cruiser successor.

The 2018 Prius C’s black cladding reaches up and around the wheel arches, and that cladding is interrupted at the Prius C’s chin by skidplate-aping metallic accents, heaven forfend. (Read More…)

By on July 24, 2017

2017-ford-fiesta-hatchback

After months of speculation as to the fate of the Ford Fiesta in North America, as well as months of hazy non-answers from communications staff, Ford Motor Company’s B-segment program manager, Robert Stiller, has stated that the subcompact car segment in Dearborn is dead.

No more Ford Fiesta.

After going on sale in the U.S. in mid-2010 as a 2011 model, the Fiesta’s American seems destined to end this year. Buyers in Europe and overseas — always a reliable draw for itty-bitty cars — are guaranteed a seventh-generation model. Oh boy, do they ever receive a new model. The 2018 Fiesta bows not just as a three- or five-door hatch, but also in luxurious Vignale and soft-roading Active trims.

Over here? Hug your 1.0-liter EcoBoosts tightly and shed a tear, Fiesta fans. The little guy appears doomed for the chopping block. Can Ford interest you in a subcompact crossover? (Read More…)

By on July 18, 2017

2017 Chevrolet Sonic - Image: ChevroletAmerican car buyers are increasingly turning their backs on subcompact cars.

During the first six months of 2017, the subcompact car losing the greatest number of sales is the Nissan Versa, which is suffering as Nissan realigns its dealer strategy to emphasize certified pre-owned cars.

But the subcompact car losing the second-highest number of sales is the Chevrolet Sonic, which has declined 37 percent this year (for a 10,334-unit decrease). In a continued attempt to dramatically reduce Sonic inventory — GM had a 159-day supply at the beginning of June; a 43-day supply at the beginning of July — GM is extending the scheduled plant shutdown at the Chevrolet Sonic’s Orion Township assembly plant north of Detroit, Michigan.

There are side effects from such a shutdown, an aftertaste following the swallowing of a bitter pill, spin-offs from a show nobody was watching to begin with. (Read More…)

By on July 11, 2017

2016 Nissan Versa Sedan - Image: NissanAmerica’s historic subcompact car segment leader, the Nissan Versa, suffered a sharp 22-percent U.S. sales decline in the first half of 2017.

In fact, total Versa sales plunged 45 percent in June 2017. The Versa remained America’s top-selling subcompact nameplate, and by a wide margin. Even in June, when Versa sales plunged by more than 6,500 units, Nissan still owned nearly a quarter of America’s subcompact market.

Nevertheless, it’s odd to see the segment leader, a car that was selling better than ever at this time last year, suddenly dropping like a stone, declining even more rapidly than the segment as a whole.

But after years of using the Nissan Versa as a tool for turning used car buyers into new car buyers, Nissan USA is scaling back factory support for the Versa in lieu of assisting Nissan dealers with their certified pre-owned efforts. (Read More…)

By on July 6, 2017

2017 Hyundai Accent - Image: HyundaiRevealed in Canada earlier this year, the fifth-generation 2018 Hyundai Accent will not be offered in the United States in hatchback form.

In formally announcing the discontinuation of the Hyundai Azera in the company’s product lineup release yesterday, Hyundai also provided a level of detail regarding the 2018 Accent. Standard is a five-inch touchscreen; a seven-inch screen with Android Auto/Apple CarPlay is available. In a first for subcompacts, Hyundai’s Smart Trunk Release will have you waving your toes at the Accent’s bumper.

But in surprisingly harsh language from its own maker, Hyundai says the Accent’s “hatchback body style has been dropped.”

Dropped.

Like a client who doesn’t pay. Dropped. Like a walk-on who couldn’t crack a roster full of future NBAers. Dropped. Like an unnecessary subcompact bodystyle in a subcompact market that’s down 19 percent so far this year.

(Read More…)

By on June 29, 2017

2018 Ford Fiesta Vignale - Image: FordAt TTAC, we’ve been doubtful of the Ford Fiesta’s future for many months.

It’s not merely the condition of the subcompact market, where sales are down 17 percent so far this year, that causes us to doubt.

It’s not only the Fiesta’s relative North American youth — it’s only been on sale since 2010 — that makes us wonder about the car’s long-term viability.

Indeed, our doubt isn’t even centered on those two factors combined, or on the fact that the Fiesta is on track for fewer sales in calendar year 2017 than the Nissan Versa has already produced.

No, we find it difficult to believe in the Fiesta’s prospects because Ford won’t even discuss the Fiesta’s North American future. (Read More…)

By on June 13, 2017

2018 Honda Fit Sport, Image: Honda North America

Hold on, you say. That’s just the same old Honda Fit. Wrong. You’re not looking close enough.

While the mid-cycle refresh of Honda’s diminutive-yet-roomy subcompact hatch retains much of the previous Fit’s design hallmarks, the automaker has seen…fit…to make the model more noticeable.

The third-generation Fit bowed in 2014 as a 2015 model year vehicle, offering a single powerplant and two efficient transmissions for not much money less than the larger Civic. Now that Honda’s compact sedan looks gigantic in comparison to its predecessors, the Fit can more comfortably occupy the subcompact segment. (Read More…)

By on June 12, 2017

2016 Volkswagen Polo - Image: Volkswagen UK

It’s a Volkswagen Golf, only slightly smaller and with a more affordable price tag.

Isn’t this what you’ve always wanted?

Maybe not.

The 2017 Volkswagen Polo is a close relation to the Mk7 Golf Americans can get their hands on, and shares the MQB platform that underpins just about everything at the Volkswagen Group except the factories themselves. But in a U.S. market that’s increasingly willing to pay just a bit more for a larger car with essentially no degradation in real-world fuel economy, would the sixth-generation Polo stand a chance?

Probably not, especially given the speed at which subcompact cars are losing sales. (Read More…)

By on April 19, 2017

volvo emblem logo grille

With the stately S90 sedan and V90 wagon out of the way, Volvo’s main focus falls on the upcoming S40 and XC40 compact sedan and crossover. In the middle ground, the Swedish automaker has already unveiled the handsomely redesigned 2018 XC60.

Will it stop there? Not according to Volvo Car USA’s president and CEO.  (Read More…)

By on March 22, 2017

2018_toyota_yaris_01_12e90e8bedc710042b70543cfdc7b82c262cf824-1

If you didn’t stay up to the wee hours last night excitedly singing the Toyota Yaris’ praises in an internet chat group, you’re forgiven. Demand for the subcompact hatch has fallen to remarkably low levels compared to years past, as newer, more dynamic hatches increasingly hijack buyers’ attention.

Still, the subcompact segment isn’t one Toyota wants to yield to its rivals. As such, the little Yaris (not to be confused with the Mazda 2-based Yaris iA) is due for a makeover. While the refreshed 2018 Yaris hasn’t been to the gym, it does look like it stared in the window and took notes. (Read More…)

By on February 16, 2017

2018_hyundai_accent_exterior_3quarter_low-2

Does it look familiar?

If you haven’t seen a new product from Hyundai in the past year and a half, your answer is probably a half-hearted “maybe.” However, the 2018 Hyundai Accent borrows enough design cues from the larger Elantra that the answer should be a solid “Oh, definitely.”

Introduced today at the Canadian International Auto Show in Toronto, the fifth-generation Accent promises more of the things that matter: interior room, length, width, acceleration and fuel economy.

It also breaks from the past in another way. Due to its growth spurt, the Accent — once among the most diminutive cars on the road — can now be classified as a compact. (Read More…)

Recent Comments

  • Garrett: Do you have a source for that $10, or are you just making that up based upon your own reasoning?
  • Budda-Boom: The Tri-Five Chevies became legends not just on style, but because they were well-built, well-engineered...
  • jkross22: Why did you buy from a dealer that treated you this way? Seems to me that you rewarded the dealer’s...
  • JohnTaurus: I am not a hater, nor a Teslaphile. I wish the company well. The only thing that does annoy me would be...
  • Scoutdude: Then you haven’t been watching them. It doesn’t take more than a few pebbles in the road to...

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Staff

  • Contributors

  • Matthew Guy, Canada
  • Seth Parks, United States
  • Ronnie Schreiber, United States
  • Bozi Tatarevic, United States
  • Chris Tonn, United States
  • Corey Lewis, United States
  • Moderators

  • Adam Tonge, United States
  • Kyree Williams, United States